Hiring the Right Executive: Top Things to Consider When Partnering with an Executive Search Firm

Last updated Oct 25, 2022
  • Attracting and retaining top talent is one of the key challenges for C-Suite executives.
  • A company’s success is highly dependent on those who lead it.
  • The last thing an organization needs at the end of an extensive search process is to be left with a group of “ not quite good enough” candidates.
  • Partnering with an executive search firm can have a profound impact on the recruitment outcome.
  • Executive search firms help connect organizations to leading-edge talent, especially if they want to expand their C-Suite or director lineup.

Nothing good comes from hiring the wrong executive.

Mentoring and coaching senior team members with complementary skills are just some of the invaluable things that an executive contributes to the organization.

The past two years have shown how much leadership matters, especially during unprecedented challenges such as a pandemic. Executives are in charge of streamlining the organization by being force multipliers that will compound results.

Hiring the right executive will then revolve around one core question: Is this candidate scalable?

Studies have shown that this is quite a difficult question to answer since, according to the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), 50 to 70% of executives fail within 18 months after taking the role.

Here are some of the most common reasons why newly-hired executives fail to execute their strategies:

·    The mandate bait

Many executives start at a new company with a perceived mandate to repeat the history of their past successes. Instead of looking realistically at the present situation, they would typically adapt strategies that “worked before” without looking at the present situation. To avoid this trap, executives need to contextualize their strategies, read, and adjust to the current situation. 

·    Stakeholder blindness

Relationships with new peers and direct reports are critical at the executive level of the organization. Since new executives often distinguish themselves through an individualistic outlook, they sometimes underestimate how much they need other employees to succeed. Forming mutual partnerships to achieve success is critical. Executives need to form connections with their team with deep trust and openness to be able to start transforming the organization.

·    Information distortion

How messages will be received and how it arrives will probably be different with new executives. Sometimes, people sanitize information based on what they think their new bosses want to hear. If they cannot perceive these distortions, then executives may have a hard time gaining their footing in the new company. To avoid this trap, executives must have a broad knowledge of company culture. They should have a broader perspective that helps them confidently orient themselves with the right mindset to see through the right information and execute the right strategies.

Attracting and Retaining Executive Talent in 2022

C-Suite executives often find attracting and retaining talent their top challenge these days.

A company’s success will be highly dependent on the people leading it. The last thing that an organization needs at the end of an extensive executive search process is to find a pool of “nearly good enough” candidates that will be picked out of necessity.

Forbes noted that the key to success is to have the right executives leading in the right way.

The board of directors and the human resources department are good at evaluating the skills, background, and experience of an executive candidate.

However, gauging the overall capacity of the individual to scale the organization is a different matter altogether. Partnering with an executive search firm can make a profound impact on the business.

Executive search firms help connect organizations to leading-edge talent, especially if they want to expand their C-Suite or director lineup.

Related: Attracting and Retaining Executive Talent After the Great Resignation

Benefits of Executive Search Firms

BENEFIT 1: Mapping the candidate-driven market

Executive search firms provide companies with access to an exclusive network of industry-leading candidates who are experts in their fields. By mapping the market and benchmarking for particular skills, roles, and salaries, executive search firms like Curran Daly & Associates can match their clients with the right candidates they need.

BENEFIT 2: Delivering solutions, more than just an impressive CV

A good executive search firm will help provide the right candidates that suit the needs of the organization. More than just providing candidates that look good on paper, executive search firms conduct extensive research that considers the organization’s goals by seeking out the right people with the right mix of knowledge, skills, and abilities to achieve them.

BENEFIT 3: Offering an objective search approach

Some organizations often fall into the trap of recruiting executives that fit the same profile as their predecessors. However, the right executive search firm will help organizations think outside the box and find the right people to help the business grow and evolve, more than just maintaining the status quo.

BENEFIT 4: Approaching suitable candidates

An executive search firm can successfully make professional and qualified approaches to identify possible candidates that fit the company. Their extensive network can help companies find the right candidates for the right executive role. They can act as an extension of the client for the duration of the search and throughout the first year of the placement.

BENEFIT 5: Having a trusted partner that provides:

·    Functional expertise

An executive search partner will have a good understanding of the industry instead of just one market segment. To be successful, an organization needs a diverse team in its senior management. A good executive search partner will have the right functional expertise to encourage organizations to think differently and present them with candidates who can arrive with new ways of thinking for the company.

·    Strategic advice

To drive the company to innovate, a good executive search firm can provide its clients with expert support in terms of long-term succession planning, organizational design, and executive coaching. Their extensive market insights mean they are qualified to provide informed decisions about hiring the right people.

·    Professional service

A trusted executive search partner will present their client with top candidates. In doing so, they are also promoting the organization in a positive light to make the candidates eager to work with the organization. This means they’re also providing an efficient and effective professional search process that adds credibility as an employer and also help them build their employer brand.

Related: Why Partnering with Executive Search Firms Makes Sense

Guidelines to Follow when Partnering with an Executive Search Firm

GUIDELINE 1: Do your due diligence about the firm.

In evaluating an executive search firm, you must do your due diligence upfront by asking the right questions and watching out for red flags. Find out what others in the industry are saying and ask for references to make an informed decision.

·    Talk to candidates placed by the firm.

Get their insights on how job opportunities were presented and the search firm’s business acumen and integrity.

GUIDELINE 2: Understand their recruiting metrics.

Executive search firms often use various metrics for benchmarking purposes. They make the right call regarding which of these metrics they should prioritize. Some of these include:

●  Days to the first submittal

●  Days to fill a position

●  Interview-to-offer efficiency ratio

●  Diversity ratio

●  Retention percentage

●  Average salary of executive positions

GUIDELINE 3: Make sure that the firm understands the company’s needs.

Ensure that the executive search partner clearly understands the role, responsibilities, qualifications, and other related aspects of the position that the company is seeking to fill.

·    The right executive partner understands the key elements of the company’s employer value proposition.

More than just hiring to fill an empty role, a good executive search firm knows how to address its clients’ immediate and long-term needs. For every vacancy, they understand the nuances of filling executive positions with the right personality, skillsets, and knowledge that an organization requires.

GUIDELINE 4: Know how a firm works.

Executive search firms have various processes that may differ. Be aware of these and pick the one that best suits the organization. Here are just some factors to consider:

·    Sourcing

A firm’s sourcing strategy is critical. The right executive search firm should be able to leverage its extensive network with the right tools that will zero in on top candidates.

·    Screening

The right executive search firm must present organizations with a sharp, defined shortlist of potential hires.

·    Interviewing

Candidates that the firm interviews should have been thoroughly assessed already. They should be able to filter out the best ones upon the client’s interview.

·    Evaluation & Selection

Once the interviews are done, organizations need to be able to rely on their executive search partner to make an informed decision.

GUIDELINE 5: Maintain trust and communication.

Trust and communication are critical aspects of a solid relationship with an executive search firm. A strong partnership cultivates open feedback about the company in terms of competitiveness of salary structure, incentive programs, and perception.

·    Establish clear communication lines

Regular updates need to occur to facilitate key results and cover all issues raised, including market feedback and progress reports.

Related: 10 Strategies to Attract Top Tech Talent

FAQs: Top Things to Consider When Selecting an Executive Search Firm

FAQ 1: How deep is their access in the industry?

At its core, the value of executive search firms lies in their ability to engage top candidates who are currently thriving and satisfied with their current roles. Experienced executive search specialists will have access to top-performing industry leaders.

FAQ 2: How will they ensure confidentiality?

Trust is critical not only to a candidate but also to the client. High-performing organizations cannot risk uncertainty that will potentially impact the organizational culture and reduce stakeholder confidence. An ethical executive search firm will ensure that sourcing is conducted in a discreet and confidential manner.

FAQ 3: How will they be objective in choosing executive candidates?

Organizations often seek external advice when they are too close to the situation and seek other angles in making an informed decision. The right executive search partner will help their clients envision new possibilities for the company and uncover pain points from the perspective of an outsider looking in.

FAQ 4: What are their assessment capabilities?

As a trusted partner, an executive search firm needs to have deep industry knowledge that will enable them to assess candidates that only look good on paper. With their extensive experience and industry know-how, executive search firms need to find the right leader with a strategic focus for their clients. Combining the science of sourcing and assessment, an executive search partner should be able to give their clients a shortlist of top candidates. 

FAQ 5: How can they minimize risk?

A good executive search partner should be able to minimize the risk of making the wrong hire. The risk of hiring the wrong candidate could be devastating. Hiring the right executive search firm will ensure that the entire process is successful.

Need help finding the right executives for your firm? Let us help you.

Curran Daly & Associates is here to help you transform your recruitment process and get the best talent that your business needs. Our experienced recruitment specialists have mastered their methodology of searching for “hard-to-find” business leaders and other expert talents.

Partner with us to learn more!


4 common reasons half of all new executives fail. (2022). Retrieved 30 August 2022, from https://www.businessinsider.com/reasons-executives-fail-2015-3

Five Rules You Should Always Follow When Partnering With an Executive Search Firm. (2016). Retrieved 30 August 2022, from https://brainworksinc.com/executive-search-services/

Ettore, M. (2022). Council Post: Why Most New Executives Fail — And Four Things Companies Can Do About It. Retrieved 30 August 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2020/03/13/why-most-new-executives-fail-and-four-things-companies-can-do-about-it/?sh=62bdfa0f7673

Greenbaum, K. (2022). Council Post: Eight Questions To Consider Before Selecting An Executive Search Firm. Retrieved 30 August 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeshumanresourcescouncil/2018/08/27/eight-questions-to-consider-before-selecting-an-executive-search-firm/?sh=50e1c06f2d73Guide to Executive Search. (2022). Retrieved 30 August 2022, from https://www.bie-executive.com/guides/guide-to-executive-search/

By: Curran Daly + Associates


Share This